Uncle Nearest Distillery Reopens Its Doors As Expansion Continues

The Nearest Green Distillery, homebase for the Uncle Nearest American whiskey brand, reopened its doors the public over the weekend in Shelbyville, Tennessee following a more than yearlong closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as the company has also revealed the next phase of a multi-phase, $50 million dollar expansion project.

The reopening occured on Juneteenth and celebrates the accomplishments of all African American people in U.S. history, including the distillery’s namesake Nearest Green, a formerly enslaved man now known as the first African American master distiller on record.

Fawn Weaver, CEO and founder of Uncle Nearest, and Victoria Eady Butler, fifth-generation Nearest Green descendant and Master Blender, hosted more than 100 descendants of Green from around the country for a private preview party two days prior to the public opening.

Nearest Green Distillery

A portion of the Nearest Green Distillery (image via Uncle Nearest)

“At Uncle Nearest, everything we do has significance beyond the product we sell – it’s why our main hashtag on social media is #MoreThanWhiskey,” said Weaver in a prepared statement. “We could not be more honored to have the opportunity to share the history of Tennessee, and to couple that with honoring the history of one of the greatest figures in the spirits industry, Nearest Green.”

The brand noted of its location that, “formerly home of the famous Sand Creek Farms, a Tennessee Walking Horse farm and event center, the Nearest Green Distillery officially opened its doors on September 14, 2019. While open, the distillery experienced sold out tours, and has become known as a full-blown destination for whiskey enthusiasts, Walking Horse lovers and families.”

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Travelers visiting the distillery will now experience the newest elements of the property, including:

  • The Welcome Center where visitors will learn the history of the three things Tennessee is most known for: Tennessee Whiskey, Tennessee walking horses and Tennessee music. Transformed from a former horse show arena, the retail space was designed by the former president of Disney Stores Worldwide, James Fielding, while the history narrative walls were designed by visual storyteller, Cyndi Williams.
  • A not-your-average Concession Stand that features snacks available around the world, but which originated in Tennessee (like Mountain Dew, Goo Goo Clusters and even cotton candy). A large red refrigerator doubles as a secret door that gains visitors entry to…
  • Philo + Frank’s, the world’s first non-alcoholic speakeasy, where there is something for the whole family to enjoy. Every detail of the designed space tells an important piece of Tennessee’s pivotal role in women obtaining the right to vote and what the women of the Temperance Movement were really after.
  • Barrel House BBQ & Brew where visitors can enjoy a famous “Grilled Cheese on Crack” at Chuck Baker of BBQ Pitmasters’ second restaurant, and the first location outside of Lynchburg, Tennessee.
  • The #WhatLiftsYou Angel Wings mural by famed muralist Kelsey Montague. Created especially for the Nearest Green Distillery, the wings weave elements of Tennessee Whiskey, Tennessee music and Tennessee walking horses throughout.
  • The Family Tasting Room where visitors can receive a guided tasting of Uncle Nearest’s portfolio of aged whiskeys.
  • Victoria’s Master Blender House, where she works hard every day to blend Uncle Nearest’s award-winning whiskeys.
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Two more additions are also set to open later this summer – “Humble Baron, an entertainment venue, restaurant and home to the world’s longest bar, and the Nearest Green Still House, where Uncle Nearest will distill its premium whiskeys for centuries to come.”

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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...